By Kevin Colley
PDT Sports Contributor
LUCASVILLE — The game of basketball is a team sport, but it is also argued that one player can make the difference between winning and losing.
Ethan Garrett was a great example in favor of that argument Wednesday as the junior guard scored 11-unanswered points to increase a five-point lead into a 16-point advantage midway through the second quarter as No. 7 Western, behind Garrett’s game-high 32 points, advanced to the Division IV Southeast Sectional Finals with a 66-45 victory over No. 10 New Boston Tiger at Valley High School.
Indians coach Larry Jordan said that Garrett’s shooting ability was evident in the game but Jordan also added that Garrett is showing increased amounts of attention to the details on the defensive end of the floor.
“(Garrett’s) very capable of (doing that),” Jordan said. “He’s a shooter, the kid can flat out shoot the basketball. If (the opponent) doesn’t get up into him, he can light it up.
“He usually makes his free throws and it makes him even more dangerous. He can just flat out shoot the basketball.”
Jordan added that while he was disappointed with the way that Western came out, he felt like the final three quarters of basketball was some of the best team ball that the Indians had played all season. Jordan singled out Dylan Stevens for providing a spark off of the bench.
“I’m tickled to death, it was one of the better games that we played together as a team,” Jordan said. “Besides the first quarter, when we didn’t seem to be ready (to play), I thought that we did just about anything we wanted to do in the last three quarters of play.”
“… I thought that from the second quarter on, we played the way we thought we were going to play tonight,” Jordan said. “We had a lot of help from our bench tonight. At one time, we had three JV players on the floor at the same time with Stevens and a couple of other kids and they really helped us out.”
The contest started out as a back-and-forth affair as neither team could grab more than a five-point lead until Garrett’s hot streak took place during the middle of the second quarter.
Garrett’s scoring barrage kick started a 23-6 run for the Indians as they increased the margin to a 48-26 tally midway through the third quarter.
The Tigers cut the lead back down to 17 points from buckets by Parker Steele and Tyler Shonkwiler, but Garrett, Stevens, and Dylan Lee ensured that a comeback victory was not to be in the cards as they combined to score 16 of the Indians’ last 18 points to seal the win.
While New Boston coach Don Stapleton was disappointed with the loss, he was happy with the effort of his team and felt that the Tigers came out with an increased level of intensity in Wednesday’s sectional semifinal.
New Boston held the lead for the vast majority of the first quarter of play and was in position to have a three-point lead at the end of the quarter until Garrett nailed a three at the horn from the right wing to tie the game at 14 apiece.
“I thought the effort was better tonight than it had been over the past several games, especially in the first quarter,” Stapleton said.
Shonkwiler was an integral part of New Boston’s success as his rebounding efforts helped the Tigers win the rebounding battle by a 49-37 margin.
“In the last nine games, Tyler’s had seven double-doubles,” Stapleton said. “(His performance) is pretty par for the course.”
Stapleton said that the team “will miss” the graduating seniors, which are Billy Nichols, Nate Payton, Jacob Slack and James Spicer.
With the win, the Indians move on to play No. 2 Leesburg Fairfield next Wednesday in a Division IV Southeast Sectional Final matchup.
New Boston 14 10 9 12 – 45
Western 14 26 19 7 – 66
New Boston – Poole 1-0-2, Nichols 1-1-3, Steele 7-3-20, Shonkwiler 5-0-10, Spicer 0-1-1, Gomez 2-0-4, Meade 2-0-5, Totals 18-5-45.
Western – Stevens 3-2-8, East 1-2-4, Lee 2-0-4, Fite 2-0-4, Garrett 13-1-32, Shanks 5-1-11, Bry. Brewster 2-1-3, Totals 28-7-66.
3-Point Goals – New Boston 4 (Steele 3, Meade); Western 5 (Garrett 5).
Records – New Boston 0-20, Western 7-15.